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Ireland v Uruguay: Match History

29 March 2011 4,248 views No Comment Written by Ronan

Uruguay, the winners of the first ever World Cup tournament in 1930, have amazingly only ever played Ireland twice before at senior international level. While we have played Brazil six times and Argentina four, you have to go back a few decades to see the last time these sides met.

8 MAY 1974 – FRIENDLY

Under player-manager John Giles, Ireland went on an end of season tour of South America, playing Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile over the course of a week in May 1974. Giles had been appointed Irish manager just eight months previous, and had only one game under his belt before the trip to South America to play at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the Centenario Stadium in Montevideo, and finishing up at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago.

Having played alongside these players in an Irish shirt, and knew their capabilities. However, it was not until this tour that many people at home in Ireland knew that they could compete on a world stage. The 1-0 friendly win over Poland which marked Giles’ managerial debut was also Ireland’s second home win in six years. For the South Americans, the matches were warm-up games for the coming World Cup, held in West Germany (and where Poland beat Brazil 1-0 in the third-placed playoff).

Ireland performed well in the first game, losing just 2-1 to Brazil, whose team included such legendary names as Jairzinho and Rivelinho. 40,000 people came to see Uruguay take on Ireland at the Centenario Stadium. Alan Kelly Snr. had missed the trip due to a shoulder injury, while 18 year old Liam Brady was refused permission to travel by club boss Bertie Mee.

However, the Irish side that lined out against Uruguay was a decent team, with Eoin Hand and Giles lining up in midfield, resigning the talented youngster Eamon Dunphy to the bench. Of the three games, it was the worst for Ireland, with the players feeling uncomfortable during their few days in Uruguay. This may have caused the players to be somewhat distracted on the pitch, leading to an easy 2-0 win for the hosts. Four days later, in Chile, Ireland went on to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Hand and Jimmy Conway, with the South American trip inspiring confidence in the players, leading to that infamous 3-0 victory over the Soviet Union in the Euro 1976 qualifier just five months later.

Ireland team: Mick Kearns (Walsall), Joe Kinnear (Tottenham), Paddy Mulligan (Crystal Palace), Terry Mancini (QPR), Tony Dunne (Bolton), Eoin Hand (Portsmouth), Johnny Giles (Leeds) , Mick Martin (Man Utd), Terry Conroy (Stoke), Jimmy Conway (Fulham), Don Givens (QPR)

Subs: Gerry Daly (Man Utd) for Givens 73

23 APRIL 1986 – FRIENDLY

The Republic of Ireland’s only other international game with Uruguay came during Jack Charlton’s reign. Like the previous match, the new Irish boss was just getting settled in – Charlton’s first game in charge came just a month earlier, a 1-0 friendly loss to Wales, with Ian Rush the only scorer. Uruguay came to Lansdowne Road, to a small crowd of just 14,000 supporters.

Frank Stapleton captained Charlton’s men onto the field, with two players making their debuts from the off. Charlton had included three League of Ireland players in the match-day squad, with Barry Murphy and Liam O’Brien starting, and Peter Eccles coming off the bench late in the second half.

The second Ireland-Uruguay friendly was also another World Cup warm-up game for the South Americans, who were drawn with Denmark, West Germany, and Scotland in the upcoming tournament in Mexico. The Uruguay team was mostly South America based, but the strikeforce of Venancio Ramos and Wilmar Cabrera played in Europe, for Lens and Valencia respectively. But it was a midfielder from Internacional of Brazil who would open the scoring. 26 year old Ruben Paz broke the deadlock on 22 minutes.

However, Jack Charlton’s tough-tackling, no nonsense approach saw Ireland equalise before the break, with Gerry Daly scoring from the spot. The match ended 1-1, with Uruguay then failing to make it out of their group at the summer’s World Cup. Ireland played in the Iceland Triangular Tournament the next month, winning both games and lifting the trophy. The next games were qualifying matches for Euro 88, and we all know how that went.

Ireland team: Packie Bonner (Celtic), David Langan (Oxford), Mick McCarthy (Man City), Barry Murphy (Bohemians), Chris Hughton (Tottenham), Ray Houghton (Oxford), Gerry Daly (Shrewsbury), Liam O’Brien (Shamrock Rovers), Tony Galvin (Tottenham), Frank Stapleton (Man Utd), John Aldridge (Oxford)

Sub: John Byrne (QPR) for Stapleton 67 mins, Peter Eccles (Shamrock Rovers) for Hughton 80 mins

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